University graduates are looking to second-tier cities because of greater job opportunities and lower property prices, a recent industry report shows.
Suzhoutopped a "competitive index" for cities, with an average of 90 graduates competing for each job, figures from major career portal Zhaopin.com show.
Other second-tier cities, such as Xi'an, Nanjing and Wuhan, also made it into the top 10 on the index.
Previously the most-favored city for jobs by most graduates, Beijingranked sixth while Shanghai ranked eighth.
The latest preferences show that a popular phrase about first-tier cities losing their allure - "running away from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou" - seems to ring true.
On average, 56 people competed for each position across the nation, a slight drop from last year.
More than 7.2 million university students are expected to graduate this year, an increase of about 280,000 from last year, figures from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security show.
Huang Ruoshan, a senior careers counselor for Zhaopin.com, said: "Suzhou, which ranked first on the list, has been attracting a large amount of high-tech talent in recent years. It is located in the Yangtze River Delta economic circle and near the bustling metropolis of Shanghai, so many enterprises have located to Suzhou".
The economy there is highly developed and the electronics and medical industries are also prospering in Suzhou, Huang said.
Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province, ranked fourth and 73 people compete for each job there on average. Huang said Xi'an is the bridgehead for development in western China and also boasts a large number of universities and research institutions, so it is natural for local students to look for a job there when they graduate.
These second-tier cities also have a high demand for skilled professionals. They have many opportunities, development platforms and clear career paths. The local government has established preferential policies to attract talents.